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Siesta Key Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011 10 years ago

COMMUNITY SPORTS TIPS: Hitting the driver with more confidence

by: Jen Blanco Sports Editor

Is there a more intimidating club in your bag? Had enough of those high slices that lose distance and accuracy? Grabbed that retriever one too many times to go fish another bad drive out of the water? Watched your score go higher and higher because you can’t get off the tee?

These questions are all part of what many amateurs face when they play the game of golf. My job today is to help you gain confidence and give you some great suggestions on how to be more successful off the tee. Here is my step by step solution that I will promise will help you gain that confidence and eliminate the slice.

The first thing that we need to address is the equipment — more specifically the loft of the driver. Many golfers have a misconception about loft. I hear all the time that they hit it too high so they immediately think they need less loft. In reality what’s happening is they are coming down so steep on the ball that they pop it up and think less loft will make it go lower. As I talk more about the proper technique later in the article you will know what I mean. Another thing most amateurs don’t know is when you buy a driver the face angle of the driver is sometimes slightly open or slightly closed. Every driver that has a half loft (8.5, 9.5, 10.5) is 1 degree open. Half lofts are for better players who can work the ball either way. Drivers with lofts (8, 9, 10 or 11) are 1 degree closed. If you are hitting it with a slice then doing nothing to your swing and switching to these lofts will help you minimize the slice. Add in a draw basis to an 8, 9, 10 or 11-degree driver and that big slice now becomes a controlled fade. If you have a half loft go out and demo what I am suggesting and see what a difference it makes, but remember one thing —equipment can help the problem but proper technique will fix the problem.

Ball position. There is no debate to this. As a right-handed golfer you want to place the ball inside the left foot so that it’s up in the front part of the stance. For those of you who pop it up with no roll you need to feel like you are hitting the ball more on the upswing. Get that ball forward so that you can get the ball up.

Back Swing is a move that creates all the power. The turn is by far the most important part of the golf swing. Without a good shoulder turn bad things creep into your swing. By turning your shoulders you are loading up into your right side. Do this by feeling your upper body getting slightly behind the ball. Remember this is not a slide. This is a motion where your shoulders get loaded behind the ball. A good way to feel this is by your view of the golf ball. If you have the same view of the ball on the tee as you do at the top of the swing then odds are you never shifted slightly behind it. The correct way will allow you to see more of the back of the ball at the top of the swing and you will know you are in the correct position.

The Downswing is our moment of truth — many amateurs get “stuffed” at impact. This means the body gets in the way. This fault won’t allow you to get your arms to swing freely. Next time you pull out the driver and you are making your way to impact feel as though your hips are cleared and out of the way. When you finish the swing you should feel much more “cleared” with your hips. If you can get your lower body out of the way when you approach the impact area you are creating torque and power which translates into more consistent longer shots. Remember this happens more naturally when your arms and hands are soft — not when you strangle the club.

I know once you start working on these valuable tips your game and driver will be much improved. Good luck!

Terry O’Hara is the director of golf at the Longboat Key Club and Resort. For more information, call 387-9151 or visit

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